Bullets and shrapnel shells smashed into homes in the Syrian capital overnight as troops battled rebels in the streets in the heaviest fighting yet in Damascus. The violence marked an increased boldness among rebels in taking their fight against the regime of President Bashar Assad to the center of his power.
U.N. observers came under fire Thursday as they tried to reach the site of the latest reported mass killing in Syria — about 80 people, including women and children who were shot or stabbed. The deaths added urgency to diplomatic efforts to end the escalating bloodshed.
Syrian President Bashar Assad on Sunday defended his government's crackdown on opponents, saying a doctor performing messy emergency surgery does not have blood on his hands if he is trying to save a patient.
Syria's main opposition group is in disarray, and its leader Thursday offered to step down, nearly 15 months after the start of an uprising aimed at toppling President Bashar Assad's regime.
Syria's main opposition council is crumbling under the weight of infighting and divisions over issues that cut to the heart of the revolution, including accusations that the movement is becoming as autocratic as the regime it wants to drive out.
A Syrian opposition leader said Friday the regime is trying to destroy a U.N.-brokered peace plan for the country. The accusations came as security forces fanned out following twin suicide car bombings that killed 55 people in Damascus.
Syrian opposition leaders on Sunday dismissed upcoming parliamentary elections as a cynical attempt by President Bashar Assad to hold on to power and urged voters to stay away.
Syria rejected international envoy Kofi Annan's call for the regime to halt violence first just days after the government agreed to a cease-fire plan. A senior official declared victory over the opposition.
China and Russia turned down invitations. Iran didn't get one. The absence of these key supporters of the Syrian regime at a meeting in Istanbul on Sunday highlights the global division over how to stop the bloodshed in Syria as much as the unity of dozens of participating countries from the Western and Arab worlds.